Paul Simon's Sounds Of Silence

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 4874 times

Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence" I chose the song "Sounds of Silence" because I admire Paul Simon's lyrics and I believe this is one of his best songs in terms of its poetic quality. The song is very haunting: its lyrics stir you and leave you feeling as though you've heard and witnessed something profound. Though I struggle with trying to understand much of it, I enjoy trying it figure it out.

An analysis of this song must begin with the very first line. The adress, "Hello darkness," is an apostrophe as darkness is not human. However, the author immediately states that he has come to talk with darkness, the first of many examples of personification. Perhaps this desire to speak to darkness is an expression of the loneliness that the persona is feeling, the sense of desperation. As the stanza continues, the persona acknowledges that a vision has come to him in his sleep and planted seeds in his brain.

These lines contain many figures of speech, including personification, alliteration ("seeds while I was sleeping"), assonance ("seeds," "sleeping"), and symbolism. The seeds symbolize a dream or an inspiration the persona has had, something that once planted will stay with him instead of disappearing when he wakes. Thus this vision is a metaphor for an unshakable belief. Finally, the last line of this stanza contains both alliteration, in the title words, "sounds of silence," and a paradox as obviously silence does not make a sound.

The second stanza contains more personification with the introduction of the neon light that stabs eyes, splits night, and touches silence. In the second line, the author provides an example of assonance with the long "o" sound in both "narrow and "cobblestone." Furthermore, the narrow cobblestone streets and the halo-like street lamp are excellent examples of imagery as they both paint a picture of this persona walking alone through dark streets.

The third stanza is one of the most puzzling. Along with the ever-present personification, the author also gives us a prime example of irony in his lines concerning people who talk but do not speak, people who hear but do not listen. Why theses people do not do these things is not clear, though it seems to be a source of frustration for the persona. It is important to take notice of the persona's frustration, whatever it is that was 'planted in his brain' and that 'stabbed him in the eyes' is only seen by him. This recognition that he has been so fortunate to understand is his alone, which seems to make this song shape up as one about ignorance and what it does to people.

The fourth stanza carries this idea even further as the persona calls these people "fools" for not realizing whatever it is that he obviously has. He tells them if they do not start speaking , listening, and sharing with one another, the silence(ignorance) will only grow like a cancer. The 'wells of silence," I believe, are a metaphor for the deaf ears that his words are falling on.

Finally, the last stanza makes on last pleas for the ignorant ones to hear the plea of the persona. Yet, they refuses to listen, bowing and praying to their "neon god." The sign functions as a symbol as well warning the people of their impending doom which the prophets have written "on the subways walls and tenement halls." The words on these walls obviously war one to speak up, listen, and share. Yet as Simon points out, we are not heeding the message, for it is only a whisper in the